Posts Tagged ‘Finnegans Wake’

Blackpaint 566 – Babes in the Wood

August 23, 2016

Bacon and Auden

I can never read Auden’s staggering poem “September 1st 1939” without remembering Bacon’s painting – and vice versa.  It’s the two men in hats, sitting in a bar(?) while the slaughtered body hovers to their left:

bacon crucifixion 1965

Bacon – Crucifixion 1965

Faces along the bar

Cling to their average day:

The lights must never go out,

The music must always play,

All the conventions conspire

To make this fort assume

The furniture of home;

Lest we should see where we are,

Lost in a haunted wood,

Children afraid of the night

Who have never been happy or good.

Actually, Bacon’s triptych suggests another Auden poem as well; “Musee des Beaux Arts”.  The theme of this is how normal life goes on while momentous and/or tragic events unfold “next door”; Auden refers to Bruegel’s Icarus picture (below), in which the ploughman goes on ploughing as Icarus’ legs – see them? – follow the rest of his body into the depths.  The barflies in the Bacon are sort of parallel to the ploughman.

 

icarus

Bruegel the Elder – Icarus

Interestingly, Auden excluded “September 1st 1939” from his Collected Poems; maybe he regretted being in the USA as Great Britain went to war; maybe he changed his mind about the politics; “Those to whom evil is done Do evil in return” might be represented as an excuse for the rise of Nazism.  Whatever the reason for its exclusion, it has to be one of the best poems on a political theme ever written.

Z, dir. Costa – Gavras, 1969

I fancied something political and unequivocally left-wing to watch, maybe to readjust my parameters a bit, so I turned to the DVD of “Z”; I guess “Battle for Algiers” would have served, or a Franco Rosi, but I haven’t got them.  The film is about the murder of the politician Gregory Lambrakis in 1963, carried out, allegedly, on the orders of local police and army chiefs.  Marcel Bozzuffi (left, below, with Jacques Perrin as an opportunistic journalist) is the assassin and a brilliantly malevolent one he makes; he went on to kill again in “The French Connection” and judging by the titles of many other films, in those too.

Z1

I think Costa -Gavras might face accusations of homophobia if he were making the film today, since Bozzuffi’s character is shown to be both gay and predatory , with arguably little relevance to the plot; presumably the film is historically accurate on this point.  Bozzuffi is a great villain, though, and joins two other of my cinema icons, the wild men Gaston Modot (l’Age D’Or, La Regle du Jeu) and Franco Citti (Oedipus Rex, Canterbury Tales).

franco citti

Citti

 

modot

Modot

 

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (dir.Mat Whitecross, 2010)

Watching Andy Serkis as Ian Dury the other night, composing, or rather throwing together the words to “Spasticus Autisticus” in a stream of consciousness, I was reminded of Finnegans Wake.  I’m sure this is a trite, pretentious observation, made by many commentators before – but I’ve never shied away from triteness and pretension in the past, so why start now?

lost in the wood 1

Lost in the Wood

Blackpaint

23.8.16

Blackpaint 493 – Whitechapel, Faust, Finnegan, Krapp

May 3, 2015

Christopher Williams at the Whitechapel Gallery

There are four striking photographs in this exhibition; two are reproduced below – the other two are a white cockerel in profile, and a close-up clutch of large red apples on the bough.  As can be seen, the colours are saturated and intense and the images have the glamour of advertisements.

There is more to it than this, of course; Williams is saying something about the process of photography – there are many other photos of cameras and photographic equipment – and probably much else.  I find from reading the critics Sean Hagan and Laura Cummings that one of the apples is dented (i.e. imperfect) and this is significant.  Similarly, the colour sample in the “turban” pic below does not contain yellow; also significant, perhaps.  I can’t be bothered to work out, or read about the significances, however.  I tend towards the philistine notion that the picture should really stand alone; don’t like reading reams of stuff on the wall or listening to a commentary on headphones.

christopher williams2

 

christopher williams1

There are also some photos of President Kennedy – these are apparently more significant because they were taken not long before his assassination.  In one, he is walking away from the camera into the distance…  I’m not sure about this  – a picture of a football pitch looks the same, whether or not we know there is a mass grave below it – the difference is in our mind.  If we know, we see it differently.

Lynette Yiadom- Boakye curates at Whitechapel

My favourite selection is the Gary Hume giant hand below.  There is also

  • Peter Doig – big orange and green painting
  • Warhol – Cow’s Head
  • Hockney – Sunflowers
  • film of an Estonian artist, dancing to Jimi Hendrix’ “Voodoo Child” at his father’s gravestone (artist’s father, not Hendrix’ father)

 

Gary-Hume

 

Faust, Murnau (1926 )

I got my VCR – that’s a video player – working again the other day and was able to watch my video of this great expressionist film for the first time in several years.  I sat and watched the whole thing through in one sitting, unusually for me (short attention span).  It’s main strength is the fantastic Emil Jannings as Mephistopheles (see below); but also there is the dark expressionist doorways and windows and the cityscape – Feininger, surely.

faust

Krapp’s Last Tape, Samuel Beckett

So then, I dug deeper into the video collection, blew the dust off, and found, after an old “Brookside” episode, this great treasure; Patrick Magee in “Krapp”.  Brilliant play, iconic actor, profoundly depressing content for anyone, like me, who is a compulsive diarist.  “Spool” is a great word, however, and bananas are a wonder food.  Magee sweats expressively – and impressively- throughout.

NPG x127343; Patrick Magee as Krapp in 'Krapp's Last Tape' by Ida Kar

Finnegans Wake

If, like me, you read a few pages of about ten or twelve different books a day – I’m retired, not rich – you find that, when you switch over, the last author’s style stays with you for a few moments and you sometimes get a sort of mental blending, or corruption even, of the latter text.  Perhaps not surprisingly, this effect is strongest with “Finnegan”; for several lines, your mind continues to expect Joyce’s dream language and you don’t immediately recognise plain English.  Most disconcerting.

 

phil3

 

Phil on Fire

Blackpaint

03.05.15